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Albion | Freeware | Freeware From A-Z | Security | Virus Information | Updated 09/09/03

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What should you look for

With all this talk about viruses, people still wonder: How do you know if you have one? Everyone expects an executed virus to flash skull-and-crossbones on the monitor while a disturbing laugh wells from the depths of the hard drive. In truth, much of the time it can be difficult to tell if your computer is infected. There are a few symptoms to watch out for. If you notice any of these things happening on your computer, it's worth running your scanning software.


Many viruses have a specific date on which to deliver their "payload" (the destructive part of the program, as opposed to the part that deals with self-replication.) Symantec maintains an online calendar that keeps user up-to-date on upcoming dates when viruses are scheduled to execute destructive commands. If you think you've been infected and you want to know what to look for, check out


More viruses for you to check out

The List Continued from Page I


How a Boot Sector Virus works

It makes no difference to a boot sector virus whether a floppy disk is bootable or not, contains only data files, or even has no files. To this type of virus, the boot sector is what's important. Here's how they work. At bootup, if an infected floppy is in drive A, the PC's BIOS will read the boot sector (or a virus written there) into memory first, even before the operating system (or an antivirus program) is loaded into memory.

At that point, a virus can be spread from an infected floppy disk to the hard disk. The process is almost instantaneous: The virus program in the floppy's boot sector is read, then it takes control of memory--and most boot-sector viruses will infect the hard disk immediately. If the floppy is not bootable, the boot process may halt, usually with a Non-System Disk message, but the virus is in memory nevertheless and can spread, usually by copying to the hard disk's boot sector or to its MBR (master boot record).

By infecting those areas of the hard disk, this type of virus will be loaded into memory every time the PC is turned on, even before the operating system is loaded. This gives the virus an opportunity to start the cycle over, by copying to more floppy disks, as they're passed from user to user.

Latest Headlines

The BadTimes Virus

If you receive an email entitled "Badtimes", delete it immediately. Do not open it. Apparently this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer.

Thank you for stopping by.

Some resources to check to see if that warning you got in your email is real or just another hoax.

  1. Symantec's Hoaxes page.
  2. Urban Legends Reference Pages.
  3. Inboxer Rebellion page.
  4. ZDNet Help & How-To's E-Hoax Central.
  5. McAfee.com's Virus Hoax
  6. Hoaxbusters

Five tip-offs that you might be looking at a hoax:

Entertainment Government

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